Regional economic growth fueled by Penn State Brandywine

April 24, 2009

Penn State's impact extends well beyond its teaching and research. In fact, Penn State is Pennsylvania's largest economic engine, generating more than $17 billion a year in overall economic impact and supporting more than 67,000 jobs. Penn State Brandywine, located in Middletown Township, was responsible for $105 million of that amount and approximately 421 jobs in the region.

In an independent report released April 23, data show that Penn State not only is fueling the growth of Pennsylvania by directly generating nearly $8.5 billion in economic impact but also influences an additional $8.7 billion through business services, research commercialization and the activities of alumni.

As the largest generator of total employment among nongovernmental entities, Penn State's operations and employment are only the first chapter in a powerful economic story that affects every community in the Commonwealth.

Penn State Brandywine is a strong partner in this region, working to benefit the citizens of Delaware and Chester counties and surrounding communities. As one of the top 10 employers in Delaware County, Penn State Brandywine makes significant contributions to the economic vitality of the region.

In 2008, Penn State Brandywine students added nearly $26 million to Pennsylvania's economy through their spending – part of the overall $932 million student spending contributed by all Penn State students.

Though the economic impact numbers are compelling, Penn State campuses not only bring in dollars; their presence in the community also enhances lives. Penn State provides students with skills for 21st century jobs; provides community members with access to library resources, lectures, and recreational facilities; and brings employers to campus to help fill workforce needs.

Penn State Brandywine plays an active role in promoting the overall well-being of the citizens of the region. Its Continuing Education programs offer adults the opportunity to acquire new skills or improve existing skills. The campus' post-baccalaureate program prepares people for careers in the healthcare industry, one of the growth industries in the local market. In addition, Penn State Brandywine provides open enrollment courses for career advancement or change, for new or growing entrepreneurs, supervisors and managers, teachers and sales professionals.

Penn State Brandywine students contribute to the economy through volunteerism, part- and full-time employment and internships. Approximately 87 percent of Brandywine students will have completed at least one internship by the time they graduate. Presently, there are about 60 students serving as interns. Four of Penn State Brandywine's majors, Business, Communications, Information Science & Technology (IST) and Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) require that students complete an internship as part of their graduation requirement. Students work as interns between 10 and 32 hours per week, depending on their major and number of credits being earned. Many students receive full-time job offers as a result of their successful internships. To facilitate the connections among its students and local employers, the campus holds a career/internship fair each semester that more than 40 employers attend.

For example, HDFS students, as part of their internship, have been working with community centers such as Southeast Asian elders, local hospitals, faculty from the University of Pennsylvania, and WHYY, among others.

Since its founding in1967, Penn State Brandywine has produced thousands of alumni who live and work in Delaware County and the region, taking on jobs that contribute to the economy. Many legislators, builders, bankers and teachers spent some or all of their college years at the Brandywine campus. Further, Brandywine students, staff, faculty and alumni buy the majority of their goods and services locally — and the Delaware County campus is growing.

“Delaware County has been a wonderful and generous community for Penn State Brandywine to call home,” said Sophia T. Wisniewska, campus chancellor. “I want to give credit to our county’s leaders for their visionary investment in Penn State. I hope that we have given back to our community in good measure.”

Beyond Penn State Brandywine, all Penn State campuses contribute in a variety of ways to the vitality of Pennsylvania's economy. According to the report, the University generated more than 2 percent of the state's business volume or more than $1 out of every $50 dollars in the state's total economy. In addition, Penn State leverages its state funding. For every dollar invested in 2008 by the Commonwealth to support the operations of Penn State, the University returned $25.06 in economic impact to Pennsylvania.

The four-month study by Pittsburgh-based Tripp Umbach indicates that Penn State's impact far outweighs other industries in the state. With the total direct, indirect and induced annual economic impact equaling more than $17 billion, the University currently creates more impact than the combined total impact of all of the state's airport hubs, professional sports teams, and arts and cultural organizations, by attracting nearly 1 million visitors and channeling more than $1.73 billion annually into Pennsylvania's economy.

Additional key findings in the 2009 Tripp Umbach report include:

• The University annually expends more than $700 million through its research activities. Research at Penn State supports more than 18,000 additional jobs in Pennsylvania, which generates more than $1.9 billion in additional economic impact and more than $61 million in additional revenue for the Commonwealth annually.

• From 2006 to 2008, Penn State Brandywine’s faculty received $400,000 in external research grants.

• Penn State Brandywine has a strong tradition of undergraduate research. The Engineering Club has participated in the University-wide Rube Goldberg competition for the past two years. Last year, the team created a hamburger-making machine and placed first in the competition, securing a trip to the nationals at Purdue University. This year, the club produced a light-replacing machine that was able to capture the second place in the regional completion.

• A group of Brandywine elementary education majors attended the annual SPSEA Conference on April 3-4. Four juniors participated in the APEX Competition and received a certificate to recognize the work that the chapter had completed in (i) professional development, (ii) community outreach, (iii) political action, and (iv) membership recruitment. Moreover, Brandywine students placed first and third, for their learning center projects.

To view the report in its entirety, visit


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Last Updated January 31, 2011